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Reception Timeline?

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I know this is an old post, but it is exactly what I am thinking. Thanks!

Originally Posted by robinkar View Post

We are actually having two receptions - one destination and one back home. So I will give what we are thinking for both.

Destination - since we are having an afternoon wedding
- champagne toast after the ceremony
- pictures
- cocktail hour where we will have the guests mingle, sign the guest book, maybe the cake cutting and of course some toasts since everyone will have drinks in their hands
- since the actual dinner & reception is only 4 hours, we wanted to get some of those things out of the way so there will be more time for the dancing/party portion
- dinner
- first dance, father/daughter, mother/son and then wedding party dance
- dance with the garter & bouquet toss sometime in the middle of the dance timeline

In Canada
- 8:00 p.m. appetizers & cocktails
- 8:30 p.m. guests will be asked to go into the room
- 8:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. wedding party introduction, slide show, centerpiece game and some very small speeches
- 9:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. lots of dancing


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Although..... this is another great way to go.... Hmmmm

Originally Posted by jmastr05 View Post

I had my wedding in Aruba. They recommended (and we followed) the below time line. Because Aruba is hot and windy, they arrange all of the photographed moments first, so that your hair and makeup is as fresh as possible. I thought that was some good food for thought for anyone having a DW in a warm location.


6:15 Guests arrive

6:30 Ceremony starts

6:50 Ceremony ends, pictures at sunset starts

7:15 Guests move to reception site

7:20 Wedding party make their entrance to the reception, first dance, dances with parents, cake cutting (all one after the other)

8:00 Buffet opens

8:30 Speeches (everyone had food at this point)


Then after the speeches it was just music and dancing. At some point the dessert plates were served to each guest's spot at the tables, but I was too busy dancing to note the time. The bouquet garter toss were the third to last and second to last songs.


11:00 End of reception


I liked having all the dancing in 1 time block. Without the interruptions of the various courses and speeches, the party vibe really built up and everyone got into it!



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Just like everything in life, it depends on your personal tastes and situation. I liked my time line because

  1. It's hot in Aruba and I was definitely gross and sweaty by the end (not good for picture moments).
  2. My friends, family, and I LOVE to dance. I wanted that party/clubby vibe to get going at the reception. I feel like having uninterrupted dance time was conducive to that.


If your destination isn't hot and/or if you don't like or want a party/clubby feel to your reception, I don't think my time line is any better than the next.

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Originally Posted by Aruba Bride View Post


My wedding is supposed to start at 5:30 and then the reception starts at 6:00pm and ends at 10:00. I am worried that there wont be much time to relax and have fun since there will only be 3 hours to eat our meal (doing 3 course instead of buffet) cut the cake do the dances...not to mention the pictures after the wedding. I want our guests to be able to enjoy themselves and not feel rushed through everything. I'm thinking about having a cocktail hour from 6-7 so we can get the pictures in and have time to get settled at the reception area before the dinner and dancing gets started. Do y'all think pushing things back and hour would be a good idea or should I just skip the cocktail hour and just add an hour to the reception itself?


However you decide to do it, I would make a change somewhere. It def seems like things are getting crammed together. I would puch the reception time back. What happens if you are running late for the ceremony? You will never be able to relax!


Good Luck and Congrats!



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Thanks for the suggestions everyone! We decided to add a cocktail hour and push the reception back!! I'm definitely feeling better about the timing of everything now!! Can't wait!

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Hey ladies!


So far nothing is set in stone, but here's what I'm thinking.  I'm wanting to do the bulk of my pictures prior to the wedding so I have time to enjoy the whole night.


11:00 Bride Hair & Make-up

1:30 - 2:30   Getting ready pictures

2:30 - 3:30   Bride & Groom first look pictures

3:30 - 4:30   Wedding party pictures

4:30 - 5:00   Make-up & hair touch up

5:00 - 5:30   Ceremony

5:30 - 6:30   Cocktail Hour & family pictures

6:30 - 7:00   Bridal Hair Change (will be pinned up to the side)

7:00 - 7:15   Receiving Line (lol my mom is making me do one even though we'll only have 30 - 40 guests)

7:15 - 8:30   Bride & Groom entrance and 3 course meal (speeches to be done throughout the meal)

8:30 - 9:00   First dance, Father daughter & Mother son first dance combined, cake cutting

9:00 - 11:00 Dancing! We may extend it to midnight, but that will depend on the overall wedding cost as we'd need to pay for an additional hour for the bar, dj and we'd probably need to feed everyone again with appetizers.




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I'm struggling with this too!  Here is my tentative timeline.  What do you think?  I've been to a couple of weddings where the cocktails were before the ceremony, and that worked really well.  However, I'd also like to be at the cocktail hour instead of off taking pictures elsewhere, but I would still like to make some sort of "entrance"... any ideas?!


1 - 4pm: getting ready

4 - 5pm: photographer takes formal portraits with us, immediate family, and bridal party

5 - 6pm: guests arrive, cocktail hour. 

6 - 6:30pm: ceremony

6:30 - 8pm: dinner

8 - 8:15pm: breaking the piñata!  I'm very excited about having a piñata. :)

8:15 - 9pm: salsa lesson for everyone to get them on the dance floor, and dancing with live salsa band

9 - 11pm: more dancing with a DJ or iPod

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I must also keep this thread bookmarked until I'm ready.  I was thinking of doing the first look pics before the wedding ceremony as well, just to save time!

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